Off the Page: Segovia, Spain

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I love history. And when I travel, I like to explore the corners of history that before, I’ve only been able to read about in books. When I went to Spain last winter, it was during the New Year and it was spectacularly cold. Many museums and restaurants were closed in Madrid for the extended holiday, so I took the opportunity to journey on the train to a little town called Segovia. It’s nestled in to the Guadarrama Mountains, between two rivers, and the landscape is stark and dramatic. The train station actually looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere and after you’ve gotten in to town via the local bus, it truly feels like you’ve been transported back in time.

Segovia Castle was constructed around 1120, on a craggy outcropping that once was the site of an ancient Roman fortress. It’s most famous resident was Queen Isabella of Castile, who went on to form the infamous duo with her husband Ferdinand. In 1570 Philip II added the slate towers to make the castle appear less forboding and more Germanic, in order to appeal to his new Austrian bride, Anna.

The interior of the castle was drafty and bare, with the wind whistling in between gaps in the masonry, yet if you put your hand on the stone there was a hidden warmth living in the rock walls, like they held physical traces of all the people who had ever lived there. You can still look out the fragile glass and see the rolling hills and mountains that Isabella saw. Surprisingly little has happened to alter the surrounding countryside in almost a thousand years. In fact, every window and archway felt laced with magic, as if thorn hedges would start crawling up the edges of the battlements to lull me and the castle in to an enchanted, timeless sleep.


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